Save Data Transfer

It may have taken a while, but the ability to transfer Animal Crossing: New Horizons resident and save data from one Nintendo Switch to another is finally upon us. Yay!

On this page we'll take you through the steps necessary to either move your entire island to a different Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite, or transfer a single island resident (player-controlled, not one of the animal residents) to an island on a different Switch,

This guide will be updated as new information is available, so be sure to check back one the 19th November 2020 Animal Crossing update is live.

How to Transfer Animal Crossing Save Data Guide

For around eight months after launch, it was impossible for players to transfer their Animal Crossing: New Horizons island from one Nintendo Switch to another. Once you began a save file on a Switch, your island was tied permanently to that console — a sizeable problem if you bought a new Switch, for instance.

Nintendo announced that a solution was coming eventually and, thankfully, it's now upon us.

By the end of the day on November 18, 2020, an update will be available for Animal Crossing: New Horizons that includes two new features to transfer save data between two Nintendo Switch systems.

Download the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Island Transfer tool from the Nintendo Switch eShop

Animal Crossing Save Data Transfer 19th Nov 2020

In order to transfer Animal Crossing data between Switch consoles, you'll first have to download a special (free) Island Transfer Tool from the Switch eShop. It's not available until 19th November, but once it drops on the store just enter 'Island transfer' into the search bar and it should pop right up.

Choose if you want to transfer your entire island or a single resident

If you've got yourself a brand new Switch (or Switch Lite, perhaps) and want to transfer absolutely everything to the new console, you'll want to choose 'Entire Island Transfer'. As you'd expect from the title, this moves your entire island and save file — including all residents — to the new console.

Here are more details from Nintendo:

Entire Island Transfer
Use this feature if you wish to transfer the entire island and all residents to a new Nintendo Switch system. The island, all progress and customizations, your animal neighbors, the island resident representative, and any other residents that have been created on the island will be transferred.

This feature is helpful if you are replacing your Nintendo Switch system with a new one and all players who have played Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be using the new Nintendo Switch system. It is also the only way to transfer your island resident representative when you have not backed up your island.

You must have access to both the original system and the new system to use this feature.

Alternatively, you might have been playing on someone else's Switch and island before you got your own Switch. Finally you have the option to transfer your character to another Switch, either to an existing island or to become the Island Resident Representative of your very own brand new island.

Again, here are the details straight from the horse's mouth:

Resident Move (Single Player Transfer)
Use this feature if you wish to transfer just one resident to a new Nintendo Switch system. The resident, the resident’s home, and most items held by the resident and kept in storage will be transferred to an island on the new Nintendo Switch system. The island resident representative cannot be transferred.

This feature is helpful when just one player wants to continue playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on a new Nintendo Switch or when multiple residents other than the island resident representative will be using the new Nintendo Switch. The transferred player(s) will move to a new island if there is no existing save data on the new system. If there is already an island populated on the new system, the resident(s) will move to that island. All island progress and animal neighbors will remain on the original Nintendo Switch system.

You must have access to both the original system and the new system to use this feature.

I want to keep an existing island but change the Island Resident Representative. Is that possible?

Pearly Gates© Nintendo Life

Unfortunately, it seems that changing your existing island's resident rep isn't possible. You might want to do this, for example, if you bought the game for the family and made someone who lost interest in the game the 'main' player.

It's possible Nintendo may introduce this feature in the future, but right now the first person who moved to the island must remain the island resident representative.

Will you be transferring your save data to another Switch? Do you think Nintendo is laying the groundwork for a new Switch model in the relatively near future? Let us know below and check back once the update drops for more information as it becomes available.

This article is part of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons walkthrough, which includes a Complete Fish List, Complete Bug List and Complete Sea Creatures List. If you're looking for specific fish or bug, we can tell you how to catch the elusive Coelacanth, Mahi-Mahi, Giant Trevally, Stringfish, Golden Trout and all the Sharks and Beetles, along with a full list of Critters leaving at the end of the month. We've also compiled a Complete Villager List and a Complete List of K.K. Slider Songs, as well as the Best Custom Design Codes and Islands we've found so far, and the best islands to visit using Dream Address Codes.

We can also help with How to Spot Redd's Fake Paintings and Statues, How to Make Bells Fast, How to Breed Flowers, How to Get more DIY Recipes, How to Upgrade Nook's Cranny, where and when to find special characters like Gulliver, Sable, Label, Wisp, Celeste, Pirate Gulliver and Jack, plus tips on using the Star Wand, Tool Ring, Rock Trick, Cutting Down and Moving Trees, using amiibo on Harv's Island, How to Back Up Your Island Data, How to Time Travel, How to Get a 5-Star Island Rating and a whole lot more.

And finally Where to Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch if for some reason you haven't yet picked up the game.